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Sexual violence against women of color has deep roots in U.S. history. Women of color have faced higher rates of gender-based violence than those who are not part of these groups. 

While anyone can experience abuse from an intimate partner, factors such as racism, discrimination, immigration status, and poverty can make it more difficult for people of color to find or even ask for help. Some of those factors include:  

  1. Cultural or religious beliefs that restrain the victim from leaving the abusive relationship or involving outsiders 

  2. Strong loyalty binds to race, culture, and family 

  3. Distrust of law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and social services 

  • African American females experience intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 2.5 times the rate of women of other races. However, they are less likely than white women to use social services, battered women’s programs, or go to the hospital because of domestic violence. 

  • In a study conducted by the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, 47% of Cambodians interviewed said they knew of a woman who experienced domestic violence.  

  • According to NVAWS, 37.5% of Native American women are victimized by Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in a lifetime, defined by rape, physical assault, or stalking.  

  • 48% of Latinas in one study reported that their partner’s violence against them had increased since they immigrated to the US.  

  • Approximately one in three African American women are abused by a husband or partner in the course of a lifetime 

  • A survey of immigrant Korean women found that 60% had been battered by their husbands.  

  • In a content analysis of 31 pornographic websites, of the sites depicting the rape or torture of women, nearly half used depictions of Asian women as rape victims.  

  • About 9 in 10 American Indian victims of rape or sexual assault were estimated to have had assailants who were non-native. 

  • Most sexual assault done against African American women goes unreported. For every African- American woman that reports her rape, at least 15 African-American women do not report theirs.  

  • A study of sexual abuse in the South Asian immigrant community was conducted between 1991 & 1996 found that 60% of the women spoke of being forced to have sex with their husbands against their will.  

  • 90% of Indian women in chemical dependency treatment are victims of rape and childhood sexual abuse.  

  • Approximately 40% of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18.  

  • African Americans have the highest rate of violent victimization of any racial group (31.2 per 1000)  

  • The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) found that 6.8% of Asian/Pacific Islander women reported rape in their lifetime.  

  • API women tend to report lower rates of rape and other forms of sexual violence than do women and men from other minority backgrounds. This may be accounted for because traditional Asian values may discourage them from disclosing such victimization, even in confidential settings. 

  • According to a U.S. study of violence between intimate partners, Latinas report rape at a 2.2% higher level than white women. 

  • Approximately 7.9% of Latinas will be raped by a spouse, boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend during their lifetime.  

  • U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1 in 3 Native American/Alaskan Indian (NA/AI) women will be raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime, making the average annual rate of rape and sexual assault among American Indians 3.5 times higher than for all other races.

  • The National Violence Against Women Survey found that 34.1% of NA/AI women report rape in their lifetime.  

  • 90% of American Indian women in chemical dependency treatment are victims of rape and childhood sexual abuse.  

  • About 9 in 10 American Indian victims of rape or sexual assault were estimated to have had assailants who were white or black. 

  • 92% of American Indian girls who have had sexual intercourse reported having been forced against their will to have sex. 

  • 44% of Indian Health Service emergency rooms reported not having an accessible protocol, or trained personnel in place for sexual assault. 

  • Many refugee or immigrant women are especially vulnerable because of poverty, limited language proficiency, social isolation, and immigration status. 


  • Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence   

  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence   

  • National Congress of American Indians Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Hart & Rennison, 2003. U.S. Department of Justice 

  • National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community 

  • Women of Color Network 

  • Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001 


  • National Crime Against Women Survey, 2006. 

  • Dutton, Mary; Leslye Orloff, and Giselle Aguilar Hass. 2000, Characteristics of help-seeking behaviors, resources, and services needs of battered immigrant Latinas: Legal and Policy implications. Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy 

  • US Department of Justice, Findings from the NVAWS, July 2000 

  • NVAWS: Women of Color Sexual Assault Statistics: 

  • National Black Women’s Health Project 

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